Local-level autonomy : a case study of an Icelandic fishing community

Van den Hoonaard, Willy Carl (1972) Local-level autonomy : a case study of an Icelandic fishing community. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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    Available under License - The author retains copyright ownership and moral rights in this thesis. Neither the thesis nor substantial extracts from it may be printed or otherwise reproduced without the author's permission.
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Abstract

The purpose of this study is to examine the assumption that Iceland has autonomous communities and establish the factors contributing to or threatening local-level autonomy in this case study of a fishing community in Southern Iceland (population 500). An ethnographic account accompanies the study. -- Prior to analyzing the factors involved, three theoretical approaches to the study of autonomy are evaluated. The approaches are embodied in macro-studies whereby the national framework predominates, in micro-studies which incorporate community studies, and in analyses of local-state relations. The latter approach is seen as the more realistic one in the sense of its methodological value in revealing dynamic processes of interaction, and operational factors between the State and the community. The study of local-state relations is directed along the study of routine and specific issues. Routine issues refer to legally prescribed ways of solving problems arising in local-state relations, while specific issues refer to informal ways of dealing with irregularly occuring problems. Twenty issues were selected. -- Chapter II traces the historic development of local-State relations in Iceland. The role of the intermediate administrative institution, the District Council, is found to be declining. Challenges of modernization and centralization cannot be met by the Council and, as a result, there is more "face-to-face" contact between the local community and the State. -- Chapter V integrates the findings of the analysis of routine and specific issues in Chapters III and IV. The following factors operate in local-state relations in Iceland in support/rejection of local-level autonomy: -- (1) the traditional role of the community in Iceland as a self-reliant unit acts as a strong incentive for maintaining the local community as a viable unit. -- (2) coalition behaviour on the national level encourages initiative on the local level in the execution of tasks; -- (3) constitutional rights and fiscal policies work to safeguard local-level autonomy; -- (4) the development of vertical alignments and biological marine-based economy of Icelandic communities pose a threat to autonomy. Vertical alignments are explained by modernization, programs of national political expediency, influence of mass media and the creation of direct ties between the private citizen in communities and the State. Marine-based economies hinder natural increase of community financing; -- (5) potential tension between traditional factors of autonomy and contemporary factors which mitigate against it, is resolved by (a) a process of cognitive ordering whereby issues are perceived as either local or national. This cognition is expressed by keeping the local government "neutral", acting as a buffer between actual local-decision-making bodies and the State; and (b) the characteristics of the local political culture of Icelandic communities support autonomy: the effects of the personality factor, and the locus of decision making being invested in community-wide agencies.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/7240
Item ID: 7240
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves [167]-171.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Sociology
Date: 1972
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Iceland
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Local government--Iceland; Iceland--Social conditions

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